Trump administration set for more hawkish position on nuclear weapons

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           White House Officials Worry Trump Will “Accidentally” Start A Nuclear War But They Won’t Stop Him
     
     
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A leading think tank has recently warned that Britain's nuclear arsenal is actually vulnerable to a cataclysmic cyber attack.

It blames this partly on failure to keep up with fast-moving advances, lack of skilled staff and the slowness of institutional change.

"After all, it is the public that will pay the ultimate price for complacency regarding cyber-security of nuclear weapons systems", it adds.

In a nuclear posture review (NPR) document set to be published by the Pentagon after the president's state of the union speech at the end of January, it is expected the administration will widen the scenarios in which such weapons could be used and will propose developing lower yield missiles for reactive use against non nuclear attacks.

As an example of what is possible, Chatham House points to a Washington Post report published in March 2017 that said the USA had infiltrated parts of North Korea's missile systems and caused test failures.

'It assumes that the intelligence community has determined that one or several adversaries out there are gambling that the USA would be self-deterred from using a ballistic missile warhead because they have larger yield, ' Hans Kristensen, the director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Guardian.

"The potential impacts of a cyber attack on nuclear weapons systems are enormous", they said, because data hacks can reveal sensitive information on facilities' layouts, personnel details, and design and operational information.

Nuclear weapons are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks that could have "catastrophic" consequences due to their reliance on new technology, a report warns today.

The authors noted there is a dilemma between needing the private sector in order to keep up with advances in technology and the risks they bring with them.

A range of issues could compromise systems that "were first developed at a time when computer capabilities were in their infancy and little consideration was given to potential malicious cyber vulnerabilities", according to the report.

"Although some information is publicly available on USA weapons systems, there is very little information regarding other nuclear weapons states", the report said. "For example, the backdoors in software that companies often maintain to fix bugs and patch systems are targets for cyber-attacks once they are discovered and become known".

The last Nuclear Posture Review was released in May 2010 under former president Barack Obama and focused more on reducing the role of nuclear weapons and heightening transparency around the stockpile in the USA, thereby reducing the risks of nuclear weapons in the world.

Widespread reliance on digital systems in the military means communications between commanders, positioning data, and the supply and logistics chain could all be vulnerable.

Digital components, material and software can quickly become obsolete and, without proper updates and patching, "they are subject to intrusion".

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